Wednesday, March 12, 2003

'Vagina Monologues' canceled at Xavier over content issues

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Because of concerns over content and language, Xavier University announced Tuesday that three productions of the Vagina Monologues, scheduled for this weekend in the theater at the Gallagher Student Center, have been canceled.

But some students said they are determined the play be staged.

Rachael Amend, 19, a freshman from Covington, said students plan to perform the play at 3 p.m. on the residential mall on campus anyway Friday in protest of the decision.

"I just feel that there's a lot of students on campus who don't have a Catholic or a Jesuit background," she said. "Their opinions are different and they want to express them. How can you cancel art? A lot of people are upset. Their opinion is going to be heard no matter what."

The program was an initiative by the Student Activities Council to raise awareness about ending violence against women and to raise money for a shelter that counsels and supports victims of abuse.

Xavier's president, the Rev. Father Michael J. Graham, S.J., said the focus on that cause was overshadowed by concerns about themes in the play.

"I, as the leader of this university, in consultation with my executive team and others, have decided that the presentation of the Vagina Monologues is not the appropriate vehicle for Xavier University to raise awareness about violence against women," he said in a statement.

Graham said he tried to balance two considerations that are often in "dynamic tension."

"The first is being faithful to our Catholic, Jesuit character that is at the heart of and the very means by which we interpret our educational mission," he said. "Second is to be true to our nature as a university where the discussion of important and often controversial issues is essential to the educational process."

The president added in his statement that he has asked staff members to work with faculty and students to present other programs that show the effects of violence against women.

Members of the Student Activities Council could not be reached for comment Tuesday.


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